Hiking and Camping in Alabama's National Forests
Alabama's National Forests
Alabama has four incredible national forests that offer the perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts. They also provide some of the best hiking and camping opportunities in the state! If you are planning on going hiking or camping in one of our great state's national forests, then read on! We've outlined all the information you need to know!
Photo by Michael Hicks, Flickr, Bankhead National Forest
1. Bankhead National Forest
Known as the “land of a thousand waterfalls,” the Bankhead National Forest is one of our absolute favorite hiking and camping spots in Alabama. It is located in the northwestern corner of the state, near the small town of Double Springs in Winston County, and it includes over 180,000 acres of protected national forestland. Located within the Bankhead National Forest is the Sipsey Wilderness, which is the largest national forest wilderness area east of the Mississippi.
The Bankhead National Forest has two great campgrounds, Corinth and Clear Creek Campgrounds. They are open April through October and offer camping units with electrical and water hookups.
The Bankhead National Forest offers over 90 miles of recreational trails and 13.3 miles of equine friendly trails in the Sipsey Wilderness. Some of our favorite trails include the Owl Creek Non-Motorized Trail, Caney Creek Falls Trail, Sipsey Loop Trail, Kinlock Falls Trail, Sipsey River Trail, and the Flint Creek White Loop Trail!
2. Tuskegee National Forest
The Tuskegee National Forest is located in east-central Alabama, about 20 minutes away from downtown Auburn. Proclaimed a national forest in 1959 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Tuskegee National Forest only encompasses 11,000 acres. While it might be the smallest national forest in the United States, it still offers some amazing camping and hiking opportunities!
There are many primitive camping spots within the Tuskegee National Forest, however primitive camping is not allowed during gun deer hunting season. However, there are designated camping areas at 14 sites in the Tuskegee National Forest, and they are open year round.
The Tuskegee National Forest offers many scenic hiking trails including the Bartram Trail, which was the first trail in Alabama to be designated a National Recreation Trail, and the Pleasant Hill Trail, which can be used for hiking or biking. In additional, this national forest also offers 15 miles of horseback riding fun on the Bold Destiny/Bedford Cash Memorial Trail.
3. Conecuh National Forest
The Conecuh National Forest encompasses 84,000 acres and it is the southern-most national forest in Alabama. This national forest is perfect for weekend getaways and family vacations as it offers a wide variety of recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, picnicking, bicycling, shooting sports, and wildlife viewing!
Within the Conecuh National Forest, is the Open Pond Recreation area. The campground at Open Pond includes primitive sites as well as those with water and electric hook-ups, with easy access to boating, fishing, hiking, and bicycle riding. We love this campground because of the beautiful views and the clean and well-maintained facilities!
Experience true southern beauty on Conecuh National Forest's Conecuh Trail! Built by the Youth Conservation Corps, this 22.5-mile trail consists of the 5-mile South Loop and the 13.5-mile North Loop, connected by a 4-mile link trail. The trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps. It is best to hike this trail in the fall and winter months, but if you are visiting in the spring or summer just make sure to get an early start!
4. Talladega National Forest
The Talladega National Forest is located in the U.S. state of Alabama and covers 392,567 acres at the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. This national forest has a wide range of camping and hiking opportunities, so you can visit frequently and have a new experience each time! The 7,245-acre Cheaha Wilderness area, located within the Talladega National Forest, offers high elevations, with numerous overlooks for panoramic views of east-central Alabama.
There are many camping areas in the Talladega National Forest including Payne Lake Recreation Area, Coleman Lake Recreation Area, Pine Glen Recreation Area, Warden Station Horse Camp, and Turnipseed Campground.
Payne Lake Recreation Area has 76 developed sites along the shoreline of the 110-acre Payne Lake and is open year round. This area offers boating, nature trails, fishing, picnicking, and swimming.
Coleman Lake Recreation Area is newly renovated and includes 39 campsites with water and electrical hookups, bathhouses, 29 picnicking units, a 21-acre lake, and access to the Pinhoti Trail.
Pine Glen Recreation Area is first come first serve and offers 21 campsites, cooking grills, sanitary facilities, fishing, hiking, and access to the Pinhoti Trail.
Warden Station Horse Camp has 45 primitive campsites for small RV’s and tents. This area is centrally located and great for horseback riders, hunters, hikers, and mountain bikers.
Turnipseed Campground is a primitive campground with sanitary facilities located in the Cheaha Wilderness Area.
There are so many trails to enjoy in this national forest! The Warden Station Horse Camp area offers 30 miles of scenic trails and the nearby Choccolocco Wildlife Management Area has four loop trails for hiking and picnicking. The Cheaha Wilderness also provides endless hiking opportunities! Visit the USDA for a detailed outline of hiking opportunities as well as map downloads!
Photo by Cynthia Phillips, Flickr, Talladega National Forest portion of Chief Ladiga Trail